Time management is an issue that I think many of us struggle with all through the year, however I do think that it’s especially tricky in December! I’ve already lost count of the conversations I’ve had with people in the last four days about how they’re struggling to juggle all the competing demands of ‘the silly season’. And every single one of those conversations wasn’t really said with effervescent joy – was filled with a sense of fatigue and depletion.
Time used to be a thing that I think we used to respect and honour. There was a time to sowing seeds and a time for harvesting them. Sunday was a time of rest. The weeks and even months after pregnancy weren’t a time for getting a ‘pre-baby body back’ they were a time for connection, bonding and healing. In our fast-paced, self-help world, time has been a commodity to harness and maximise. There are literally hundreds of books given advice around the best ways to live the most fully-optimised, efficient and productive of lives. We wear devices that piff out data to inform us how we could do it better and faster, squeezing every last drop out of every single second. No wonder we’re exhausted. I’m exhausted just writing about it.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve read my fair share of these books – I’m a systems girl and I can literally feel my dopamine high-fives when I do something more efficiently than I have before. I’m all over ‘eating frogs’, the pomodoro technique and whilst I’ve not personally managed it, I do love the idea of a ‘4-hour work week’. However, I am absolutely NOT a fan of leveraging the ‘hustle’ mentality…that just seems crackers. Even the word hustle sounds like far too much effort and actually really quite uncomfortable! However, this year I’ve read a book that’s made me look at time, productivity, choices and perspective-taking in a very different way.
A journalist and writer named Oliver Burkeman has written a book called ‘4,000 weeks’. On the face of it the title is a littler provocative as it’s based on the premise that if we get to live until we’re about 80 years old that equates to roughly 4000 weeks of living life. While you’re letting that sink in, let’s switch focus to the essence of the book which is around the idea of finitude. He argues that our issue isn’t so much about our limited time that we somehow have to find evermore ingenious ways to manage – it’s actually the defining feature of human life. If we can truly accept our existence is finite it means all our choices are important, even the small ones. Every choice is both an affirmation and a sacrifice. “Any finite life — even the best one you could possibly imagine — is therefore a matter of ceaselessly waving goodbye to possibility” (Oliver Burkeman).
This all means a few things about how we approach some of the things that I think many of us struggle with every day: busyness, distraction, procrastination, and denial. If we can fully embrace finitude, then we might find it easier to say ‘no’ to the things we don’t really want to do but feel obliged to agree to. It’s also helpful to remember that with every we say ‘yes’ to, we’re also (by extension) saying ‘no’ to a whole host of other things we’d probably really like to do with our finite about of time – because there are an infinite number of things that we could be filling our time with. Our choices are precious.
If you need support around overwhelm, time management and being more present in your life, we have a team of experienced therapists at Thea Baker Wellbeing – please reach out to us at: email@example.com / 03 9077 8194.